It was a tale of two halves for the Michigan Wolverines in Evanston Saturday night.
After trailing 24-14 at halftime, Michigan rediscovered its defense while Northwestern caught the turnover bug. That resulted in a second-half surge for the Wolverines, carrying them to a 42-24 at Ryan Field.
Denard Robinson compiled 451 yards of total offense, beating the Wildcats with his legs and his arm. Robinson passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns, completing 17-of-26 passes. After throwing three interceptions in the first half, he didn’t turn the ball over in the second.
Devin Gardner also got some snaps at quarterback, rushing for a touchdown and completing his two passes.
Junior Hemingway provided a deep threat for the Wolverines’ passing game, catching five passes for 123 yards. Roy Roundtree added 83 yards on three receptions. Jeremy Gallon and Steve Watson each notched a touchdown catch.
Robinson also rushed for 113 yards and another two scores on 25 carries to lead the Michigan rushing attack. Michael Shaw accumulated 27 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while Fitzgerald Toussaint added 26 yards on 14 rushes.
Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa had an impressive game, completing 32-of-45 passes for 334 yards. But much of that yardage came once the Wildcats fell behind and needed to move the ball quickly. Persa didn’t throw for any touchdowns, however, and tossed a second-half interception.
Jeremy Ebert caught 11 balls for 87 yards, but his fumble early in the fourth quarter effectively killed whatever rally Northwestern had left. Drake Dunsmore added 74 yards on seven receptions.
After rushing for 101 yards in the first half, Northwestern added only 78 yards in the second. Jacob Schmidt was the team’s leading rusher with 29 yards on five carries. The Wildcats’ offense also abandoned mixing in Kain Colter for some option plays, which worked effectively in the first half. But if that was in the second-half game plan, it likely got scuttled once Michigan pulled ahead.
With the win, Michigan has a 6-0 record for the first time since 2006. And though it might seem silly to point this out, the Wolverines are also bowl-eligible in early October. Last year, Michigan didn’t win its sixth game until Nov. 6. That sixth win was elusive in the previous two seasons. But obviously, this team is aiming quite a bit higher now.
Next week, Michigan travels to Michigan State to face the 4-1 Spartans. Besides in-state pride (and maintaining an undefeated record for the Wolverines), this year’s matchup will feature added stakes. First place in the Legends Division will be on the line.